Amazon’s Alexa is going places, and recent numbers show that its future is brighter than ever.
According to a comprehensive study by location marketing firm Uberall, close to half of small and medium-sized business (SMB) marketers say they love Alexa more than any other voice technology out there.
More precisely, 48 percent of SMB marketers believe that Amazon’s digital assistant has more marketing potential and a brighter future than any other smart assistant on the market.
Voice technology and marketing
Despite gaining increased recognition in recent years, voice technology has actually been around for a while. Speech-to-text translators have been used by the hard of hearing community for decades now.
Today, voice tech has become almost synonymous with digital assistants that live in your smartphones, tablets, smart speakers like Amazon Echo, and other voice-enabled devices. Almost every big tech company has built its own voice assistant, from Microsoft to Chinese players like Tencent.
The truth of the matter, however, is that voice technology in the small business world is still in its formative stages. SMBs have not put their faith in it, and some of them have no idea what to do with it.
Consumers love voice
For consumers, voice technology is a game-changer.
90.1 million US adults have used voice assistants in their smartphones, while 77 million and 45.7 million have used them in their cars and smart speakers in their homes respectively.
What’s more, over 50 percent of consumers already use digital assistants and voice technology to find local business info.
Marketers plan to spend more on voice marketing
The good news is that small and medium-sized businesses are catching up, and upping their voice spending. According to an Uberall report, 35 percent of SMB marketers said that they are putting aside more marketing dollars for interactive voice channels.
9 percent of SMB marketers are “significantly increasing” their voice marketing budgets, while 26 percent say their budget increase is slight. On the flip side, a mere 3 percent and 1 percent of these marketers are planning to “slightly” and “significantly” decrease their voice marketing dollars respectively in the next few months.
How are others stacking up against Alexa?
Uberall, Inc study looked to figure out how marketers for small businesses and medium-sized enterprises feel about voice recognition technology in the industry.
While most SMBs seem to be waiting for voice technology to mature before they jump on the wagon, it’s clear that a significant number have plans to embrace voice assistants in the near future. But most of the love goes to Alexa – 48 percent to be precise.
The second favorite voice assistant was unsurprisingly Google Assistant, with 29 percent of marketers saying it has the biggest potential for marketing. 17 percent say they believe Apple’s Siri will be the most useful voice assistant for SMB marketers. Microsoft’s Cortana and “other” voice assistants shared the spoils, with each garnering 3 percent.
Alexa for marketing – and why marketers love It
Interactive voice marketing – the act of using voice assistants to market your brand, product or service – has huge potential for both big and small businesses.
The benefits of interactive voice channels like Alexa for SMBs are numerous:
Alexa offers uninterrupted customer service and access. By embracing Alexa skill development, small and medium-sized businesses can provide customers with unlimited access to their information, help, and much more around the clock. Interactive voice channels are like your 24/7 sales rep, but they don’t take breaks, nights, weekends or holidays off.
Alexa helps build and manage reputation. Alexa-enabled chatbots, for instance, offers 24/7 customer service, reducing complaints and other factors that might ruin your image and reputation.
Cost reduction is a major plus. Voice assistants like Alexa take the pressure off of marketers, salesperson, and other teams. This way, small businesses can focus their attention on what truly matters: growth.
Alexa helps improve productivity. When combined with big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies, interactive voice assistants can lighten up the load for everyone, improving overall efficiency and productivity.
For instance, Alexa for business can help with video conferencing, monitor devices (e.g., data centers, medical devices, etc.), reply or organize emails, track website status, invoice scheduling, and streamline daily tasks. Check out this comprehensive guide we put together to learn more about Alexa for business.
Voice technology helps reduce human error. In industries like healthcare, human errors come at a steep cost, both for the consumer and the organization. Voice tech can help reduce this error by a huge margin.
Interactive voice technology makes marketing and interactions more personalized. Alexa for business helps SMBs create more robust and more personalized relationships and connections with customers. Addressing the customer by their first name, for instance, makes them feel special, improving overall user experience.
The list goes on and on.
Despite all these upsides, SMB marketers are not putting voice tech in the front burner when it comes to their business marketing. In fact, slightly less than 40 percent of surveyed SMB marketers said that they “don’t do anything with voice.”
Is voice marketing valuable to SMBs?
In total, around 77 percent of marketers seem to agree that interactive voice channels offer great marketing value.
24 percent (just under a quarter) believe that using voice assistants like Alexa for business is “very valuable”, while 25 percent said it is “somewhat valuable.” 28 percent might still be in limbo, but they think it’s “slightly valuable.”
Who should be responsible for voice content?
The largest number (40 percent) of small and medium-sized business marketers say they should create content for their interactive voice channels in-house.
On the other hand, 28 percent say they should delegate the responsibility to content or creative agencies. In other words, more than a quarter of marketers want their Alexa skill development and other voice content initiatives to be outsourced to creative agencies.
Other responses included: publisher partners (3 percent), SEO agency (7 percent), media-buying agency (9 percent), and “other” (13 percent).
Marketers want more info
Although more than three-quarters of marketers see some value in interactive voice marketing, they need more info before they invest.
- 53 percent want better insight into return on Investment (ROI) and campaign success.
- 47 percent want more info on campaign personalization and targeting.
- 33 percent want the entry on the technology end lowered before they hopped on board.
- 32 percent want to know if Alexa and other voice assistants will align better with their performance goals.
- 28 percent want to know if voice tech will integrate into their overall product ecosystem, including their phones, smart speakers, voice-enabled TV, and so forth.
Voice is the future of marketing, and Alexa’s own future is brighter than ever. Marketers think Alexa offers the most marketing potential.
It is important for small businesses to start building skills for Alexa, and preparing for the future of voice. With 50 percent of searches envisioned to be voice-based by 2020, SMB marketers should also optimize their assets for voice SEO.